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Bernd Leno Defends Arsenal After Poor Form: 'Not Like Everyone Was Not Trying'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2019

Arsenal's goalkeeper Bernd Leno sits on the pitch after failing to make a stop during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Brighton, at the Emirates Stadium in London, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno defended his team-mates after their recent run of poor results, saying, "It was not like everyone was not trying."

The Gunners ended a run of nine games without a win on Monday, as they came from behind to beat West Ham United 3-1 in the Premier League. The victory was the first of Freddie Ljungberg's spell as boss, with the Swede taking interim charge of the team following the dismissal of Unai Emery.

Leno conceded the team have not been playing to their best recently, though he was adamant the players have remained committed during their fruitless sequence of games, per the Arsenal website:

"At half-time [on Monday] Freddie was talking and analysing. He showed us some situations that we needed to be braver. We did this. It is good feeling, we all missed the feeling. He was calm but in a very straight way.

"It was not like everyone was not trying, but you could feel that we did not play in a free way and he made us more free to play. You could see this more in the second half. After the second and the third goal you could see how we can play with more confidence. This is the real Arsenal."

Arsenal fans were likely fearing the worst at half-time after Angelo Ogbonna's header put West Ham ahead. The Gunners were much improved after the interval, however, with goals by Gabriel Martinelli, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang steering the team to a key win:

The victory was a huge relief for all associated with the north London club, as their season has threatened to spiral out of control in recent weeks.

Per James Benge of Football.London, at times the Germany international has been left stranded at the back in his attempts to keep out opponents:

James Benge @jamesbenge

If Bernd Leno makes it through this season without completely losing it at the defenders in front of him he deserves player of the season.

Sky Sports Statto commented on the ease with which teams have fired shots against Arsenal prior to the West Ham encounter:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Shots faced per PL game in Arsenal career (excluding tonight): David Luiz 14 PL apps for Arsenal 17.4 shots faced per game Sokratis 38 apps 13.8 shots faced PG Holding 32 apps 12.9 shots faced PG Chambers 58 apps 12.5 shots faced PG Mustafi 85 apps 12.2 shots faced PG https://t.co/d1DS1HErIF

Though times have been hard for Arsenal supporters lately, they will be encouraged by what they saw in the second half at the London Stadium.

Martinelli looks ready for Premier League football, having shone in the cup competitions, while Pepe finally ignited his career in the top flight. The Ivorian was a threat throughout the second period, netting a brilliant goal and then setting up Aubameyang.

Crucially, Arsenal also relieved some of the pressure that had been on Leno in recent weeks. The German will be hoping an upturn in confidence will ensure he's less busy over the Christmas period; had it not been for his fine work between the sticks in recent outings, Arsenal's plight could be a lot worse.